Read M.L. Buchman's Target Engaged Sampler

This December starts off with a bang as M.L. Buchman releases TARGET ENGAGED, the first in his brand new (and action-packed) Delta Force series! To celebrate his new release, Sourcebooks Casablanca is sharing the first six chapters of Target Engaged for FREE! Click here to download the first six chapters and check out a special note from M.L. Buchman below. 

A Note from M.L. Buchman

Dear Reader,

Welcome to my newest series: the first women of Delta Force. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun this was to write.

Most of us know little more about Delta Force than the Chuck Norris movies (which leave a lot to be desired) or perhaps we only know the name. In researching my Night Stalkers series, I kept running into these guys. They are the elite of Special Operations Forces. They are at a level of SEAL Team 6, and most would argue they were even beyond that. They are the ghost and shadow warriors who helped take down drug lord Pablo Escobar, capture Noriega, were undoubtedly behind the locating of Saddam Hussein, and are the main reason that Al-Qaeda abruptly stopped being a topic in the Iraq War when over three thousand of their leaders were swept off the board.

Yet the Pentagon states that they don’t exist. Fascinating.

And while they often work with undercover female operatives, no woman has yet managed to kick in the front door on one of the most arduous selection programs in the military.

I decided to change that.

Carla Anderson stepped forward to take the challenge. She is a not a woman out to prove she can match any man, she’s out to prove that she can beat them at their own game. And that was the first thing that I loved about writing this series.

In the Night Stalkers, the women were strong, excellent, and determined.

To be a Delta Force woman, Carla had to add enough attitude and drive to plow through all obstacles which just made her so much fun. Nothing was off the table when it came to her attitude or her actions.

And that was the second thing I came to love about this series launcher, Target Engaged. Being Delta Force, they really do operate outside so many bounds. They are sent to do the tasks that no one else can. To that I added the additional challenge that Robert Ludlum gave to Jason Bourne (though I’m quoting the movie): “I don't send you to kill. I send you to be invisible. I send you because you don't exist.” I’m pretty convinced that this is part of Delta’s mission.

It is occasionally said by retired Delta Force operators (as the on-duty ones never speak): “If we’d been sent in to take down bin Laden, you still wouldn’t know how it was done.” To bring that to life gave me a permission as a writer to run my characters into hard and strange places and be just a little gonzo doing it.

But writing is a give and take, and I can’t begin to tell you how much the characters I created shaped my telling of this story. I like to think that they had as much fun as I did bringing this story to life.

I hope that you enjoy the reading even half as much as I enjoyed the writing!

M.L. Buchman (the Oregon Coast, November 2015)

Get to know the Carla, and the entire Delta Force team by reading the first SIX chapters of TARGET ENGAGED for free! Just click here to download them! To get you started, we’ve included the first few pages below:

Chapter 1

Carla Anderson rolled up to the looming storm-fence gate on her brother’s midnight-blue Kawasaki Ninja 1000 motorcycle. The pounding of the engine against her sore butt emphasized every mile from Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado, home of the 4th Infantry and hopefully never again the home of Sergeant Carla Anderson. The bike was all she had left of Clay, other than a folded flag, and she was here to honor that.

If this was the correct “here.”

A small guard post stood by the gate into a broad, dusty compound. It looked deserted and she didn’t see even a camera.

This was Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She knew that much. Two hundred and fifty square miles of military installation, not counting the addition of the neighboring Pope Army Airfield.

She’d gotten her Airborne parachute training here and had never even known what was hidden in this remote corner. Bragg was exactly the sort of place where a tiny, elite unit of the U.S. military could disappear—in plain sight.

This back corner of the home of the 82nd Airborne was harder to find than it looked. What she could see of the compound through the fence definitely ranked “worst on base.”

The setup was totally whacked.

Standing outside the fence at the guard post she could see a large, squat building across the compound. The gray concrete building was incongruously cheerful with bright pink roses along the front walkway—the only landscaping visible anywhere. More recent buildings—in better condition only because they were newer—ranged off to the right. She could breach the old fence in a dozen different places just in the hundred-yard span she could see before it disappeared into a clump of scrub and low trees drooping in the June heat.

Wholly indefensible.

There was no way that this could be the headquarters of the top combat unit in any country’s military.

Unless this really was their home, in which case the indefensible fence—inde-fence-ible?—was a complete sham designed to fool a sucker. She’d stick with the main gate.

She peeled off her helmet and scrubbed at her long brown hair to get some air back into her scalp. Guys always went gaga over her hair, which was a useful distraction at times. She always wore it as long as her successive commanders allowed. Pushing the limits was one of her personal life policies.

She couldn’t help herself. When there was a limit, Carla always had to see just how far it could be nudged. Surprisingly far was usually the answer. Her hair had been at earlobe length in Basic. By the time she joined her first forward combat team, it brushed her jaw. Now it was down on her shoulders. It was actually something of a pain in the ass at this length—another couple inches before it could reliably ponytail—but she did like having the longest hair in the entire unit.

Carla called out a loud “Hello!” at the empty compound shimmering in the heat haze.

No response.

Using her boot in case the tall chain-link fence was electrified, she gave it a hard shake, making it rattle loudly in the dead air. Not even any birdsong in the oppressive midday heat.

A rangy man in his late forties or early fifties, his hair half gone to gray, wandered around from behind a small shack as if he just happened to be there by chance. He was dressed like any off-duty soldier: worn khaki pants, a black T-shirt, and scuffed Army boots. He slouched to a stop and tipped his head to study her from behind his Ray-Bans. He needed a haircut and a shave. This was not a soldier out to make a good first impression.

“Don’t y’all get hot in that gear?” He nodded to indicate her riding leathers without raking his eyes down her frame, which was both unusual and appreciated.

“Only on warm days,” she answered him. It was June in North Carolina. The temperature had crossed ninety hours ago and the air was humid enough to swim in, but complaining never got you anywhere.

“What do you need?”

So much for the pleasantries. “Looking for Delta.”

“Never heard of it,” the man replied with a negligent shrug. But something about how he did it told her she was in the right place.

“Combat Applications Group?” Delta Force had many names, and they certainly lived to “apply combat” to a situation. No one on the planet did it better.

His next shrug was eloquent.

Delta Lesson Number One: Folks on the inside of the wire didn’t call it Delta Force. It was CAG or “The Unit.” She got it. Check. Still easier to think of it as Delta though.

She pulled out her orders and held them up. “Received a set of these. Says to show up here today.”

“Let me see that.”

“Let me through the gate and you can look at it as long as you want.”

“Sass!” He made it an accusation.

“Nope. Just don’t want them getting damaged or lost maybe by accident.” She offered her blandest smile with that.

“They’re that important to you, girlie?”

“Yep!”

He cracked what might have been the start of a grin, but it didn’t get far on that grim face. Then he opened the gate and she idled the bike forward, scuffing her boots through the dust.

From this side she could see that the chain link was wholly intact. There was a five-meter swath of scorched earth inside the fence line. Through the heat haze, she could see both infrared and laser spy eyes down the length of the wire. And those were only the defenses she could see. So…a very not inde-fence-ible fence. Absolutely the right place.

When she went to hold out the orders, he waved them aside.

“Don’t you want to see them?” This had to be the right place. She was the first woman in history to walk through The Unit’s gates by order. A part of her wanted the man to acknowledge that. Any man. A Marine Corps marching band wouldn’t have been out of order.

She wanted to stand again as she had on that very first day, raising her right hand. “I, Carla Anderson, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution…”

She shoved that aside. The only man’s acknowledgment she’d ever cared about was her big brother’s, and he was gone.

The man just turned away and spoke to her over his shoulder as he closed the gate behind her bike. “Go ahead and check in. You’re one of the last to arrive. We start in a couple hours”—as if it were a blasted dinner party. “And I already saw those orders when I signed them. Now put them away before someone else sees them and thinks you’re still a soldier.” He walked away.

She watched the man’s retreating back. He’d signed her orders?

That was the notoriously hard-ass Colonel Charlie Brighton? What the hell was the leader of the U.S. Army’s Tier One asset doing manning the gate? Duh…assessing new applicants.

This place was whacked. Totally!

There were only three Tier One assets in the entire U.S. military. There was Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group, DEVGRU, that the public thought was called SEAL Team Six—although it hadn’t been named that for thirty years now. There was the Air Force’s 24th STS—which pretty much no one on the outside had ever heard of. And there was the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment—Delta—whose very existence was still denied by the Pentagon despite four decades of operations, several books, and a couple of seriously off-the-mark movies that were still fun to watch because Chuck Norris kicked ass even under the stupidest of circumstances.

Total Tier One women across all three teams? Zero.

About to be? One. Staff Sergeant First Class Carla Anderson.

Where did she need to go to check in? There was no signage. No drill sergeant hovering. No—

Delta Lesson Number Two: You aren’t in the Army anymore, sister.

No longer a soldier, as the Colonel had said, at least not while on The Unit’s side of the fence. On this side they weren’t regular Army; they were “other.”

If that meant she had to take care of herself, well, that was a lesson she’d learned long ago. Against stereotype, her well-bred, East Coast white-guy dad was the drunk. Her dirt-poor half Tennessee Cherokee, half Colorado settler mom, who’d passed her dusky skin and dark hair on to her daughter, had been a sober and serious woman. She’d also been a casualty of an Afghanistan dust-bowl IED while serving in the National Guard. Carla’s big brother Clay now lay beside Mom in Arlington National Cemetery. Dead from a training accident. Except your average training accident didn’t include a posthumous rank bump, a medal, and coming home in a sealed box—reportedly with no face.

Clay had flown helicopters in the Army’s 160th SOAR with the famous Majors Beale and Henderson. Well, famous in the world of people who’d flown with the Special Operations Aviation Regiment, or their little sisters who’d begged for stories of them whenever big brothers were home on leave. Otherwise, totally invisible.

Clay had clearly died on a black op that she’d never be told a word of, so she didn’t bother asking. Which was okay. He knew the risks, just as Mom had. Just as she herself had when she’d signed up the day of Clay’s funeral, four years ago. She’d been on the front lines ever since and so far lived to tell about it.

Carla popped Clay’s Ninja—which is how she still thought of it, even after riding it for four years—back into first and rolled it slowly up to the building with the pink roses. As good a place to start as any.

Want more Delta Force? Click here to download the first six chapters of Target Engaged!

Book 1 in M.L. Buchman’s thrilling NEW Delta Force series
 
Delta Force: The most dangerous elite counter-terrorism force on the planet
• The deadliest shooters •
• The most out-of-the-box thinkers in any military •
• Will die to get the mission done •
 
Sergeant Kyle Reeves: The premier soldier of the new recruits
Sergeant Carla Anderson: The first woman of Delta Force
 
If the training doesn’t kill them, their passion may—but Kyle Reeves and Carla Anderson blast right in. Show no fear. Have no fear. Then they get the call. The most powerful drug-smuggling ring in Venezuela needs a takedown, and Delta’s newest team leaps into the deep jungle to deliver. Giving their all? Not a problem. Giving their hearts? That takes a new level of courage.
 
M. L. Buchman has over 40 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the Year,” nominated for the Reviewer’s Choice Award for “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of 2014” by RT Book Reviews, and twice Booklist “Top 10 of the Year” placing two of his titles on their “The 101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.
 
In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.
 
He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing by subscribing to his newsletter at www.mlbuchman.com.